It’s best to start your online reputation management initiative prior to having any online reputation problems. If you take a proactive approach, you can shape your online presence in a way that reflects your business’s essence and personality.
All it takes is one negative comment on a blog, website, or review site with a decent amount of traffic and boom! Your reputation is in the ditch.
There are somethings that help prepare you to see a disaster before it happens, and stop it before it goes too far. The best solution is to be proactive and begin establishing your online reputation before a crisis.
Below are 7 tips to help you understand what direction your online reputation is going in, and it will help you see if you need to make any necessary changes in your business before it’s too late.
Get your online reputation started right!
1. Know your customers
Be sure to poll your customers, do surveys, talk with them and learn what they love about your business, and what they don’t like. By knowing what they love, you can talk about those features, and knowing what they don’t like gives you an opportunity to fix it, or address it.
If you can’t correct your company’s flaws, you can at least be better prepared in the event that it becomes a reputation attack.
2. Know the employee experience
Employees are the key to internal marketing, whether or not they engage with prospects and customers, they do talk to people when they are out and about. When someone asks them where they work, what they do, how do they like it – they are a voice representing your business. Are they saying positive things about your business? Are they saying negative things?
Make a point to listen to your employees and learn what they think about your company’s products and services, what they think about the company culture, what they feel the pros and cons are. Much like the point above, about knowing what your customer’s experience is, and knowing what your employee’s experience is, can help you prevent a reputation disaster.
3. Watch what you say! Choose your online voice carefully
What you say on Twitter, on Facebook, anything you write online, has the potential to live online forever. Do you comment on blogs? It can be a great thing to do, especially if you have a company blog, but be careful to leave a real comment, do not make it a sales pitch or PR pitch.
It’s great to have your business engage in the blogging community, but be conscientious to stay in alignment with your brand voice. And for goodness sake, have a social media policy for your business! Your employee’s voice, may represent your business, this can be a good thing or a bad thing, so do implement a social media policy.
4. Build your online reputation now
Build your online reputation now before someone else builds it for you. When a prospective client wants more information about your business, they tend to look it up online and read through the content on your website, your blog posts, your reviews etc… If you do not actively create your reputation, then you’re leaving it up to others to do so.
It may be in their reviews or comments, but it’s best for you to build it before you’re stuck fighting to defend your reputation after some negative reviews and comments. It can take months to create new content that will rank on the first pages of Google and if you wait until you have to negative reviews and statements about your business on the first pages, by then you’re deep in a crisis and scrambling to build positive content.
So, do it now while you’re not in the heat of a reputation mess, and it will help you to keep out any future negative statements. Be proactive and put this in place before you need it!
Monitor what’s being said about you online. I know there are only so many hours in a day and so much to do. However, it really is important to keep your eyes and ears open to hearing what is being said about your company. It will allow you to not be blindsided by a crisis and reputation issue.
6. Be sincere
Seek to be the best business you can be and seek honest feedback from your employees and customers. Allow their perspective to shed light on how your business is perceived, and learn about the customer’s experience and the employee’s experience. It’s okay to have a business with heart! Matter of fact, it can set you apart from your competition, and deepen customer and employee loyalty.
7. Be transparent & consistent
Don’t be shady! Now, no you don’t need to “tell all.” Your customers and prospects don’t want your deep inner details, so don’t go TMI on them (too much information). But you can let them see your contract, your agreements, and your guarantee in writing. Give them contact phone numbers so they can reach a live person. The old ways don’t work in today’s world, people need to feel they can trust you and your business, and they won’t have a bad experience.
The old rule applies in life as well as in business: do what you say you’ll do, and be consistent in your quality and delivery. Of course, things happen sometimes, and mistakes can occur, when that happens be upfront about it and fix it. Be consistent in your online voice, and in your business’s essence. Do you best to deliver a consistent quality experience for your customers and prospects?
Reputation management isn’t something to wait on. If you are proactive with your reputation management and monitoring, you’ll find yourself in a much better place than if you leave it up to chance.
You may not realize that unhappy customers are more likely to write reviews than happy customers. Just like unhappy employees are more likely to publicly express their opinions, than the happy employees. Keep a pulse of what people are saying, and what they experience in working with your business.
Do your best to be seen in a flattering and authentic light!